Musculoskeletal disorders are widespread among the Australian population. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, MSDs alone affected 6.9 Australian population in 2014-15 and contributed to 12% of Australia’s total burden of disease and injury. Among others, back pain and problems comprise the most of MSDs, and 17% of such cases have been attributed to occupational exposures and hazards, which has a significant economic impact on both individual and institutional levels.
Despite their prevalence, these issues can be tackled or prevented with some modifications in the work setting. Ergonomics has become a buzzword in workspace design in recent years. It has proven health benefits over musculoskeletal disorders, resulting in increased productivity and reduced organisational costs induced by such conditions.
So the question is, how do you set up an ergonomic workstation?
Substituting traditional office furniture with ergonomic chairs and desks and implementing ergonomic working positions can drastically improve office ergonomics. Even if you’re working from home and have no access to ergonomic furniture, there are DIY adjustments you can make to tackle the hazards of sitting at a desk for prolonged hours.
Creating an ergonomic workstation that’s just right for you or your employees’ needs can be tricky. It’s why we’ve put together practical ergonomic tips and tricks to help you achieve heightened efficiency at your workplace. These adjustments will let you maintain a relaxed and comfortable working position that minimises stress on muscles and joints.
1. Adjusting Your Chair
Sitting on a poorly designed office chair is like sitting on an uncomfortable log and leaning against a hard wall. On the contrary, ergonomic chairs support your back with just enough curves to make you feel comfortable all day long. An ergonomic chair also supports your hips, thighs, feet and hands to provide optimal comfort.
Here’re a few adjustments you can make to your chair to solve the most problems.
While sitting on a chair, your feet should lay flat on the floor, and your knees should be at the same height or slightly lower than your hips. The seat height can differ from person to person, so adjust accordingly.
Maintain a two to three finger width space between your calves and the seat pan while sitting all the way back in the seat.
Recline the backrest at an angle of 100°-110° while ensuring that your upper and lower back is well supported. It’s best to have the curve of your chair support the natural S-curve of your back.
Position the armrests where your elbow, forearm, and wrists are parallel to the floor. However, restrain from using armrests while typing to avoid possible forearm muscle strain as it limits overall arm movement.
Chairs with headrests support the back of your head and upper neck, reducing tension in the shoulders and upper torso.
Instead of bending and twisting your body to reach something on your desk, use the swivel mechanism of your chair. It saves you from an unwanted back injury.
Finding the right ergonomic chair can make an incredible difference. You want one that’s comfortable and adjustable, allowing everyone to have a workstation perfect for them. Direct Office has ergonomic office chairs that are adjustable according to the physical need of each occupant and ensure safe and upright posture.
2. Arranging Your Work Desk
A well-arranged work desk massively helps in achieving an ergonomic workstation. You don’t need to lay out each and everything perfectly. Simply arrange your work equipment like the keyboard, monitor, mouse, phone, and documents to steer clear of any discomfort or injury while using them for an extended period.
You can make a few adjustments to your regular desk to attain the right fit for you. An ergonomic desk with adjustable height would be a great addition to your ergonomic workstation setup.
Most desk jobs use desktops with a keyboard and mouse as input devices. Position the keyboard correctly, keeping the following in mind.
- Keep your keyboard or the entire work desk close to prevent leaning forward.
- Place the most-used section of your keyboard precisely in front of you.
- Adjust the keyboard height to let your shoulders relax, bend your elbows at an angle of 100-110°, and keep your hands and wrists straight. It is advisable to maintain a 6-8 cm gap between your lap and the keyboard.
- When reclined in your chair, tilt the keyboard to maintain your elbows at the abovementioned angle. Use a keyboard tray with a tilt mechanism to obtain the desirable tilt.
- Avoid resting your wrists on the desk while typing, as it puts pressure on your wrists. Use palm support instead to keep your wrists straight.
- If you use a laptop, get a laptop stand with adjustable height and a tilt mechanism to use the keyboard efficiently. An external keyboard is even better.
- You can also opt for a partially split keyboard to prevent the inward bend of your forearms and hands.
Even though you may be sitting comfortably on your chair, your monitor can cause discomfort if not positioned correctly. Adjust the screen to the height where your neck feels relaxed and neutral. Here are a few helpful tips.
- Place the monitor right in front of you above the keyboard.
- Your eye level should be positioned at the top third of the monitor when you’re seated.
- Sit at an arm-length distance from your screen, then adjust according to your eyesight.
- Avoid placing your monitor with its screen facing a window or a light source to reduce glare. The best positioning would be at a right angle to the window.
Correct Mouse Usage
Repetitive motions of using a laptop’s touchpad or standard mouse can be just as stressful on your fingers and wrists as prolonged typing. Invest in a good-quality mouse that perfectly fits your palm and has smooth mouse buttons.
- Always place the mouse close to your keyboard.
- Avoid gripping your mouse firmly.
- Do not rest your wrist on the desk while using a mouse.
- Move the mouse from your elbow or shoulder and not by moving your hands sideways.
Documents and Phone
Place your documents exactly in front of you. It’s best to use an in-line copy stand and place it between the screen and the keyboard. In case of insufficient space, place them adjacent to your monitor.
Keep your phone within your vicinity to prevent bending your torso to reach it. A phone stand can be helpful. If your job role involves frequent and prolonged phone calls, use a headset or speakerphone.
3. Keep Moving
It isn’t natural to spend 8 hours a day sitting in front of a computer screen. Adjusting work equipment works best to attain office ergonomics. However, continuing to sit in the same posture, even if it’s comfortable, takes a toll on your body by limiting blood circulation. The following work rituals, in addition to comfortable sitting and equipment positioning, help you reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders in the long run.
- Take frequent breaks. Stay away from your computer during breaks.
- Get up from your desk and move your body or stretch every hour.
- If applicable in your job, implement the “20-8-2 rule”. Try sitting for 20 minutes, standing for 8 minutes and walking for 2 minutes every half an hour.
- Look away from the screen from time to time to avoid eye fatigue.
- If your workplace has standing workstations, adjust them to fit you and avoid standing for long periods as it can hurt your back and legs.
4. Good Lighting
The abundance of natural light in your workspace can help you feel energised and refreshed while reducing eye strain. A clear outdoor view also induces a good mood. If windows aren’t an option, it’s essential to have task lighting that provides just enough illumination, especially if the job involves working with papers. Good lighting is especially crucial in working late nights to avoid discomfort.
DIY Tips and Tricks for Ergonomic Home Offices
With most of the workforce working remotely, employers need to ensure a safe working environment for the employees at their homes by supplying them with ergonomic office furniture.
If you’re working from home and have no access to an ergonomic desk setup, you can make a few alterations to your existing workstation to make it more ergonomic.
- Rest your feet on a footrest if the seat of your chair is too high.
- Use pillows or cushions to support your back.
- If you work on your laptop and the height of your table is too low, use a laptop riser.
- Use an external keyboard and mouse on your laptop.
- If your work involves a lot of typing, try voice dictation software.
Get the Best Ergonomic Office Furniture
Investing in qualitative ergonomic office furniture is crucial, especially in this day and age where we work just as easily from home as in the office. A healthy and happy work life is essential, which is directly influenced by a comfortable working environment. Lack in this area for long periods results in decreased worker productivity and efficiency while increasing the likelihood of dangerous musculoskeletal disorders.
Direct Office has a wide range of ergonomic office products that offer maximum comfort alongside great quality. Remember us for the best prices for the best value. Call +61893222990 or contact us to discuss what you need.